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Help NYPL Decode Real Estate Deeds from the 19th Century

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If you're curious about where and how some of the earliest immigrants to New York City lived, the New York Public Library has a new participatory project that might be right up your alley—and it can all be done online. With Emigrant City, the NYPL is asking people to help it transcribe a treasure trove of real estate records from the 19th and early 20th century. Emigrant City is part of the library's efforts to digitize its massive collection. This project in particular covers just over 6,000 handwritten mortgage and bond ledgers issued by Emigrant Savings Bank between 1850 and 1920 to people living in the city. With Emigrant City, the library is asking volunteers to help identify and transcribe information on the ledgers—turns out computers aren't so good at reading historical documents.

The library is conducting the project in a three-step procedure to divide the work, but you can choose to do any one of the three tasks. The first task is simply identifying the information. The second task is using that information to fill in the various fields the library is seeking data for, such as street addresses and the mortgager's name. The third and final task is verifying that information. If one field has been transcribed consistently three times, it will go into the library's records.

NYPL has taken on similar participatory projects in the past such as Building Inspector which asks people to identify buildings and other details on old maps, and What's on the Menu?, which asks people to transcribe historical restaurant menus.
· Emigrant City [NYPL]
· Browse 11 Sweet Maps From NYPL's Newly Digitized Archive [Curbed]
· The 3,200 Manhattan Doorways One Man Photographed in 1976 [Curbed]

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